Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron exchanged a white-knuckled handshake

Posted at 2:17 PM, May 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 14:17:45-04

The ever-growing book of weird handshakes involving President Donald Trump has a new chapter!

On Thursday in Brussels — ahead of a NATO summit — Trump and newly-elected French president Emmanuel Macron sat down for a talk and a handshake. And what a handshake it was!


Here’s how pool reporter Phillip Rucker of The Washington Post, who was in the room, described it:

“They shook hands for an extended period of time. Each president gripped the other’s hand with considerable intensity, their knuckles turning white and their jaws clenching and faces tightening.”

Steve Holland, who covers the White House for Reuters, tweeted this: “The photogs noticed that Trump and Macron were gripping their hands hard and in photo below. Trump seems to just want his hand back.”

US President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of a working lunch, at the US ambassador’s residence, on the sidelines of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit, in Brussels, on May 25, 2017. (PETER DEJONG/AFP/Getty Images)

Handshakes are a very big thing to this president. Trump seems to view the handshake as a sort of battle of wills and a battle for power all wrapped into one.

Trump’s go-to handshake move is the tug-and-pull — as demonstrated in these handshakes with Vice President Mike Pence and Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Trump also tends to hold the handshake for about 5 seconds longer than you might expect — as in this shake with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe (which also features a “hold and tug” right in the middle!):

By now, world leaders appear to be well aware of Trump’s handshake strategy. When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the White House, he was prepared.

And, if you watch the handshake with Macron, it’s clear that Trump — on at least one and maybe two occasions — tries to pull away and Macron just keeps holding on.

Superficial? Absolutely. But remember that Trump is, at heart, someone who believes deeply in appearances and perceptions. So, before you roll your eyes and dismiss this all as fluff and nonsense, remember that the job Trump had right before running for president was as a star of a reality TV show.